From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Benevolence, Praise-Singing & that Mandingo Griot in Sierra Leone
By Sylvia Olayinka Blyden
Mar 21, 2011, 12:46

The red APC party, led by H.E. President Ernest Bai Koroma, has practically bought over the conscience of a certain percentage of the journalists in this country using a variety of tactics not limited to funding the medical bills of the dying father of a senior journalist. Journalists in this category include certain self-identified pro-SLPP journalists whose presentation as being green SLPP members whilst they are really Watermelons (truly red in motive but with green presentation), are seriously distorting the political picture from the reality.


Sylvia Olayinka Blyden remains one of the upstanding, independent journalists with integrity left inside this country today and I am proud of this regardless of what my detractors may try to peddle.


If the APC Leader enjoys the massive support of the Freetown traders, I will publish it with photos of the banners and dancing pro-APC ladies. In the same vein, if the APC Leader is causing public disorder with his ill-thought acts of dishing out huge dollops of cash to hungry youths on the streets thus resulting in stabbings, woundings and stripping women half-naked, I will highlight it and question the source of the huge sums of monies.


If the SLPP scores credible points against APC, I will applaud them but if the SLPP Lawyers babble in front of the Supreme Court Judges only to proceed to unfairly blast the Supreme Court instead of self-evaluating their woeful performance, I will publish a condemnation of the SLPP Lawyers. If the SLPP is being transformed, by an over-ambitious retired Army Lieutenant [faking himself to be a Brigadier-General], into a party of violence because of ulterior motives, I will raise the alarm.


There are some journalists who are professional praise-singers of the Emperor. When Tejan Kabbah was in power, they sang his praises to the exclusion of all others and when Ernest Koroma takes over, they sing his praises to exclusion of all others. These journalists sing according to how their bread is buttered and damn consequences for the rest of the country.


The Mandingo grouping to which a certain Sierra Leone journalist belongs, has a culture where some of their people inherit the art of being professional praise-singers (Griots). These people will praise-sing anything done by their Emperors. We should not blame them for such worthless behaviour as they cant help it. Shameless praise-singing of those in power runs in their DNA.


According to Wikipedias coverage of Mandingo culture, each aristocratic family of Griots accompanied a higher-ranked family of Emperors whom they called Jatigi. In traditional culture, no Griot can be without a Jatigi, and no Jatigi can be without a Griot; the two are inseparable, and worthless without the other. However, the Jatigi can accept a loan of his Griot to another Jatigi.


So, as you can see, these griots from the Mandingo tribe can be interchanged amongst Emperors who can loan their Griots to one another. For example, former President Kabbah can loan his Mandingo Griot to President Koroma if need be.


For me, I am not a Djeliba (Griot) from the Mandingo tribe who can be loaned from one Jatigi to another. I write on principles and not to provide worth to the Jatigis public image despite what the Jatigi might do.


Recently, one certain Griot of a Mandingo journalist called for former APC Minister David Carew, a Creole, to be discarded from Ernest Koromas Cabinet. After Carew was removed, this Mandingo griot went on to justify the removal by saying people from the Creole grouping are inconsequential to Sierra Leones politics because, according to his Djeliba thinking, Creoles are not to be relied on as they were not committed people.


As an upstanding and proud Creole woman, I will not make such a sweeping derogatory comment against the entire Mandingo grouping but what I will certainly say for sure is that a certain Mandingo journalist in this country is practising shameless and worthless Griot Journalism - with or without his current Jatigi. Lonta!

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.